USA Sevens Analysis: 2015 NACRA Sevens Championships

Mens Eagles winning the 2015 London leg
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NACRACARY, NORTH CAROLINA – Welcome to Cary. If you haven’t heard of it, don’t worry, you’re not the only one. Cary is a smaller city just outside the second biggest city in North Carolina, Raleigh-Durham. This weekend it will be center of the North American Rugby Universe since Cary will host the 2015 NACRA Sevens Championships. Unfortunately for us reporters, Cary doesn’t have a name easy to rhyme with for us to create a “Thriller in Manila” like moniker. So the magnitude of the event will have to be enough.

The @Eagles7s and @USAWomens7s must both attempt to punch their ticket for the XXIX Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in 2016 this weekend. It will not be an easy task, though it might be easier for the USA Women than the USA Men, but most so-called experts say the USA stands a great chance.   As we did all season for the HSBC Sevens World Series and the Women’s Sevens World Series, we will break down the 3 main issues facing the USA team and the likelihood of how they will finish.

We are not savages here, so we insist on Ladies First:

Team changes (+/-): Six. Here is the complete squad list.
Women’s Eagles Sevens | 2015 NACRA Sevens Championships  travel squad
1. Joanne Fa’avesi
2. Kelly Griffin
3. Kate Zackary
4. Alev Kelter
5. Dana Meschisi
6. Lauren Doyle
7. Kristen Thomas
8. Richelle Stephens
9. Melissa Fowler
10. Hannah Lopez
11. Lorrie Clifford
12. Carmen Farmer

USA WNT 7s in LangfordSix is a alot. That is half the squad from the roster that competed in London and Amsterdam a few weeks back. Though the lack of composure cost the USA an automatic bid to Rio, but they did beat Series winners, New Zealand for the first time ever. It appears though that head coach Ric Suggit is swinging a heavy axe and is decidedly not happy that they missed the automatic bid.

For the taking: With no Canada to face since Canada got an automatic qualification slot by way of their second place standing at the end of the Women’s Sevens World Series season, this tournament is for the taking for USA. It is now a matter of if they can keep their focus and go get what they rightly deserve, a place in Rio.

Composure: The USA started in Amsterdam like a house on fire with a great day. Unfortunately, as we all know, statements are made on day 2 not day 1 in sevens. When the time came to stand-up and be counted, they went missing as a team. It may sound harsh but it is fair in that the results speak for themselves. So now, with nobody in the women’s tournament on their level, will they raise their hand.

What does this mean going in to the tournament?

My view: There is no cynical view and optimist view is in line with my view, USA all the way.

Women’s Eagles Sevens | 2015 NACRA Sevens Championships
v. Jamaica – Saturday, June 13 – 11:44 a.m. ET
v. Barbados – Saturday, June 13 – 2:06 p.m. ET
v. Cayman Islands – Saturday, June 13 – 4:28 p.m. ET

NACRA Women’s Championships: It is all about the USA winning dominantly and booking their place. The real challenge is for who will get to lose to America in the final and enter the worldwide repechage round.

Here are our pool previews
Pool A:

USA Womens 7sOf course the USA will win this group. Jamaica has a rich tradition though the progress of the women’s game is tough to gauge. Cayman Islands has loads of ex-pats so they could surprise, Barbados will be last but they could be tricky for the teams not named USA.

Pool B:

The top two of T & T and Guyana have a quality rugby history so it will likely be one of the two that top the group. Mexico will try to go and earn some respect and they will finish higher than the Bahamas.

With all that factored in, here are our predictions for playoffs and title winners:

Cup: USA
Second: Trinidad & Tobago

Third: Jamiaca
Fifth: Mexico
Seventh: Barbados

The USA Sevens Men, frankly have a tougher challenge. They will have to go through Canada to punch their ticket to Rio. I am not disrespecting the field but everyone knows that the final will be USA v Canada. If it is not, then I will give a fresh and crisp 20 dollar bill to the first RWU fan to spot me at a USA Rugby event and show me this article. You have my word on it. So now lets look at the 3 issues effecting the USA Men.

Team changes (+/-): Two and a half. Here is the complete squad list.
Men’s Eagles Sevens | 2015 NACRA Sevens Championships travel squad
Nate Augspurger
Perry Baker
Danny Barrett
Garrett Bender
Andrew Durutalo
Madison Hughes
Martin Iosefo
Carlin Isles
Folau Niua
Zack Test
Brett Thompson
Maka Unufe
Chris Wyles

The travel squad is 13 so it appears that someone will be made an injury reserve for the weekend, we are not sure who. Taking a look at the squad it appears that Brett Thompson and Chris Wyles force their way at the expense of Mat Leuta.  To be fair to Leuta sustained an injury that made him unable to compete for a place. Wyles hasn’t played 7s in years but has been getting quality time with Saracens of the the English Premiership and helped them lift the title this year. The half a change is because Thretton Palamo is replaced by Zach Test, excuse me, 2014-2015 HSBC World Sevens Series Dream Team selection, Zach Test. The decision makes sense because Palamo was only added because of proximity to London since he plays for Saracens’s second team, and Test went down injured in the Glasgow tournament.

Being the Favorites: The USA have gotten the better of Canada more often this season. They are the favorites to win it all. Can they cope with the pressure? They just dominated in London and they are home for this tournament. Will this weekend see a dominate performance with signs of bigger things to come or will the USA crumble under the pressure. Remember, pressure can bust pipes but also makes diamonds, so we will see how the USA copes.

Wyles with Dallen Stanford for USA 7s circa 2011
Wyles with Dallen Stanford

Canada: This is like a scheduled boxing match. The USA know that they have to face Canada and vice versa. Each side will get a few warm-up matches before they go face to face. Can they stay focused on the task at hand? Can they also deal with a Canada team that whooped up on them in Glasgow? Rivalry games are tricky and come down to emotion, so who will have more emotion come Sunday is the key.

What does this mean going in to the tournament?

My view: Like the Women’s team, there is no cynical view and optimist view is in line with my view, USA all the way.

Men’s Eagles Sevens | 2015 NACRA Sevens Championships
v Saint Vincent and the Grenadines – Saturday, June 13 – 1:22 p.m. ET
v Barbados – Saturday, June 13 – 3:44 p.m. ET
v Mexico – Saturday, June 13 – 6:06 p.m. ET
v Jamaica – Sunday, June 14 – 9 a.m. ET

NACRA Men’s Championships: This tournament is more like an invitational. It will be USA’s to win since its in their backyard. The only person that can crash the party will be Canada and they will be doing their best.

Here are our pool previews
Pool A:

Canada won 1st Rugby Sevens gold medal at Pan American Games in 2011- Photo: IRB/Martin Seras Lima
Canada won 1st Rugby Sevens gold medal at Pan American Games in 2011- Photo: IRB/Martin Seras Lima

After the USA takes this group it will likely see Jamaica come in second over a rapidly improving Mexico. Barbados will be able to fight out St. Vincent for the four spot.

Pool B:

Canada will dominate this group followed by Guyana. In a battle of traditional West Indies heavyweights, the benefit of the doubt leans toward Guyana over T&T. The Cayman Islands will then be too much for the Bahamas and claim fourth.

With all that factored in, here are our predictions for playoffs and title winners:

Cup: USA
Second: Canada

Third: Jamaica
Fifth: Trinidad & Tobago
Seventh: Barbados
Ninth: Bahamas

You can follow the U.S. on Twitter with @USARugby and watch the Series on

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And as always, stay low and keep pumping those legs.

About Junoir Blaber 868 Articles
Born in Osu, Accra, Ghana, West Africa, Junoir Blaber is a rare commodity; while most Ghanians eat, sleep and dream Soccer (football), Junoir is all about Rugby. A self-proclaimed Rugbyologist, he has been involved in Rugby as a ref, coach, administrator and player since Columbus discovered Ohio. His useful/trivial rugby knowledge qualify Blaber as RWU's Senior Correspondent & known in rugby circles as The Rugby Rain Man. He can also be found moonlighting for our American partners at